Friday, August 6, 2021

Moonstruck! Once In A Blue Moon There Is An Ice Cream.... I Call It Bella Luna Blue

   We've all heard the expression "Once In A Blue Moon!". It's an expression that denotes scarcity, rarity, the unusual. Blue moons themselves are pretty dang rare. They only occur every two or three years. We had two of them in 2018, and  those were only two months apart.  In 2021 we're expecting 3 Super moons, 2 lunar eclipses, and 1 Blue Moon. August 22/23 are the dates to look out for, as that is the night of the 2021 Blue Moon.

When this Blue Moon happens it doesn't mean that the moon is going to change color. Nope, it's not that simple. 

All this Blue Moon business started when the Christian Ecclesiastical calendar used the phases of the moon to determine the start of Lent, and the feast of Easter. They had the Lenten Moon, they had the Paschal Moon just before Easter, so they decided to name the third moon of the year the Blue Moon in order to make certain that Lent and Easter coincided with the right moon phases so that all religious celebrations would still fall during their "proper" times. If you want all the rest of the info on Blue Moons just check THIS out. It explains everything.

 When the follks at Adagio Teas  contacted me and asked if I'd like to try their Bella Luna Tea, ONLY available during a Blue Moon, of course I couldn't resist. Who turns down a rarity like that? An when someone gives me something to try, I'm not going to just drink it, I'm going to get really involved and see what else I can do with it. After all, Blue Tea? I've drunk teas of several shades, green, red, pink, green, black, and brown but never, ever blue. Who ever heard of Blue Tea? Well now you have.

The secret is in the Blue Butterfly Pea Flower.

This little beauty has the most glorious scent and taste. It's reminiscent of blueberries, and lemongrass, with it's own natural sweetness. 

This is a tea one does not have to add much sweetener to. When added to hot water, the flowers turn the tea blue. Add a dash of lemon and it turns purple (more on that at a later date. I immediately started to think about what I could do with it besides just brewing a pot and staring at the pretty blue color. I thought about several ways to use it, but then the weather turned hot. I mean hot hot hot. Not as bad as the heat dome squatting over the pacific northwest, but close. 

It hit 104 a couple of times and to me, that's ice cream weather. Actually  any weather is ice cream weather. I grew up in cold and foggy San Francisco and remember hearing as a kid that more ice cream was sold in San Francisco despite the chill. Maybe it was just local pride, who knows if it was true or not.  One thing is certain, my hometown sure does love it's ice cream, even if most of the time when it's eaten in a San Francisco summer, one's wearing a coat. I don't know if that's what influenced me but I do know that when I received my bag of Bella Luna Blue Tea, I had ice cream on my mind. So that is what I decided to make out of my tea.

 

BELLA LUNA BLUE MOON ICE CREAM

Here's What You Need:

2 cups of whipping cream

2 cups of whole milk

3/4 cup of sugar

6 to 8 tsps of Bella Luna Loose Leaf Tea 

1 pint of fresh blueberries

Here's what To Do:

In a small pot mix together the milk, cream, and sugar.

Add in about 6 to 8 tsps of Bella Luna Blue Tea.


 Heat the mixture, while to stirring it.

When the milk, cream and sugar mixture nearly hit's the boil, you will see the color start to change.


When your mixture is a lovely robins egg blue, strain it into a bowl.

Place a piece of clingfilm across the top and refrigerate the mixture over night.

The next day place the mixture into an ice cream maker...

...and turn it on

After about 20 minutes add in your fresh blueberries.

Let the ice cream churn for another 5 minutes or so then scoop it into a container and set it in the freezer to firm up for several hours.

Then scoop it out, scatter some fresh blueberries on top and enjoy. Because of the natural sweetness of the butterfly pea flower, this ice cream does not need a lot of sugar added. I use about 3/4 of a cup and that is because of you don't, your ice cream will freeze sooooo hard you will think you are in Antarctica. Trust me, I found this out the hard way many years ago. So, 3/4 of a cup is enough sugar, don't worry about it not being sweet enough. It will be.

      

So there you have it, delicious, sweet, blueberry-fresh. If I'd had this tea on the 4th of July I'd have served it with strawberries and whipped cream for a whole Red, White, and Blue  Patriotic  Dessert Extravaganza.

Now......here's what makes this special. This tea is ONLY available right now. Yes, you heard me  it's only available on the days of a Blue Moon and the next one is on August 22...so get shopping!!!

Order Loose leaf teas here:

This chance only comes along once in a Blue Moon, because after all isn't that the point?!

Sunday, June 6, 2021

SIMPLY INDIAN is Simply One of The Best Ways To Start Cooking Indian Cuisine

  I've been cooking Indian food now for 31 years. I'm not of Indian ancestry, and didn't grow up with a mom who was a stellar cook. In fact she didn't really believe in preheating the oven so in a way she invented the lava cake decades before it became popular. Only problem is, hers would probably give you Ptomaine since the inside was always stone cold raw. I taught myself to cook as a kid out of necessity since my mother really hated to cook. I grew up cooking all sorts of things. Living in San Francisco, in a neighborhood with a lot of Asians, I started shopping in Chinatown markets on Grant Avenue, and cooking Chinese food. I got my first wok when I was about 18 and went from there. Indian food came later.

  I was diagnosed with cancer in my 30's and being a vegetarian, non smoking, non drinking, runner everyone thought that was impossible. It was possible. I had decided to go macrobiotic during treatment  while I was having chemo and really got bored with what I was cooking super fast. As a result I was sort of disappearing and my oncologist wanted to know what I was eating. I told him macrobiotics and they won't let me have eggplants, or tomatoes plus a bunch of other stuff I loved. My doctor asked why I didn't cook Indian food that was healthy, had tons of vegetarian recipes, plus I could get my eggplants and tomatoes back? I was in. But, I didn't know how to get started, since the only Indian food I'd eaten was in restaurants. 

Enter the sister-in-law.

  My husbands' family has ties with India. My sister-in-law and brother-in-law have lived and worked there, (she's an expert in Indian Buddhist art) and my husband has friends there so that seemed to be the place to start. I called my sister-in-law and she came out to LA and gave me a crash course in Indian cooking. I started hanging out at Indian markets and talking to the women I met there and after they figured out I was serious and not going away, they started giving me tips and advice.  And tastes! The market I went to also sold hot food for take away and I got samples.

  Since I was vegetarian, I started with vegetarian cookbooks, most notably Lord Krishna's Cuisine, and enormous heavy book containing about 500 recipes. I cooked my way through that, asking for advice from the experts as I went along. That was not necessarily a starters cookbook and I attempted stuff that gave me an education quick. People have always asked me how do I get started cooking Indian food, and I've wondered what to recommend...now I have an answer.

Simply Indian ,The Vegetarian Cuisine of Western India.

  I was sent the book to review and the moment I opened it I thought, "yeah, that's the ticket!" that was the book I've been wanting to recommend. Now  someone...Nita Desai has written it. The book is filled with simple and tasty dishes from India's western region. Recipes from Goa, Maharashtam Gujarat, Utter Pradesh. The book is also a great directory of what equipment one needs, what the spices are, how to make spice blends, info on dals, street food recipes. The whole thing!

  To show just how easy this book is, I decided to cook Patal Bhaji, aka Potatoes and Onions In Green Curry. So here we go.

Potatoes and Onions In Green Curry

Here's What You Need:

For The Dish :

12 tiny red new potatoes

12 pearl onions

2 to 3 cups of water

1 cup of chopped fresh cilantro...save 2 Tbs out for the garnish

1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

1/4 cup of fresh grated coconut. If you don't have that use dried shredded coconut (UNSWEETENED) and moisten it with a bit of water to soften it first. Save out 1 Tbs for a garnish.

1/2 cup of coconut milk

1 tsp ginger chili paste... or 1 jalapeno pepper blended with 1/2 inch piece of fresh peeled ginger into a paste

1 tsp crushed garlic or shallot

1 and 1/2 Tbs ground cumin mixed with1 and 1/2 Tbs ground coriander

2 tsps lemon juice (for serving)

For The Tadka:

Now the Tadka  sometimes called the Chaunk is a technique. It's an infusion of hot oil and spices, that sometimes are used to finish a  dish, sometimes used at the start of a dish to layer flavor

2 Tbs vegetable oil

3 or 4 curry leavers. If you don't have them forget, it there's no substitute but they can be ordered online

1 tsp Panch Puran...okay before anyone goes...WHAT!? Panch Puran is a blend of 5 spices. You can make a bunch and store it in an airtight jar so you always have it on hand.

Panch Puran: Indian 5 Spice Blend

1 Tbs each of

cumin seed

fennel seed

fenugreek seed

black onion seed also known as Nigella or Kalonji

black or brown mustard seed

Mix them all together that's Panch Puran.

 

Here's What To Do :

Wash the potatoes and soak them in cool water. Drain them just before you add them to the hot oil.

 Peel the onions and  immerse them in cool water. Drain just before they go into the oil.

In a blender or food processor make a paste of the  cilantro, coconut, mint, ginger, chili and garlic or shallot


Heat the 2 Tbs of oil in a pan or about a minute,. When it's nice and hot add the Panch Puran.

When the seeds start to sizzle and crackle add the curry leaves, drained potatoes, and onions, coriander-cumin powder and that green paste you whipped up.



Stir gently to coat the vegetables in the mixture. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring 4 or 5 times.

Now add about 1 and 1/2 cups of water, salt to taste, and cook for  5 more minutes.




 Now, add the coconut milk.

Let the mixture cook uncovered for another five minutes adding water if you need it to maintain the consistency of the sauce.

The reason we keep it uncovered is so that the green paste keeps it's green color.

The potatoes should now be soft and cooked through. Test with a fork.

Take the pan off the stove.

You can make it ahead, just reheat before serving. 

When you're ready to serve it up, add the lemon juice...

...and the coconut garnish.

And you're done! 

This dish is great for a company or family dinner. Pair it with rice, and some chapattis and you've got a meal.

  This was a great, simple dish to make, as most of the stuff in it is easily available at most supermarkets, and Indian markets, and it does not take hours and hours to make. I made it on a weekday as a working lunch, so that tells you how fast it cooks up. Once you start cooking Indian food and get some of the spices in your house you'll find that most of the recipes in this book are easily accomplished. This is the perfect book for anyone who wants to start cooking Indian food or knows someone who does . As they say....Baby Steps.

   Coming up next on the blog, we fire up the Tandoor for Summer cooking! Follow along on Twitter at @kathygori

Saturday, May 1, 2021

It's Time To Get Your Grill On With Saffron Tikka, And The Easiest, Fastest, Marinade Ever!

   It sounds like the worst cliche ever, but "I can't believe it's May" has been running through my head daily. Last year, the first half of the year seemed like I didn't experience it at all since I actually didn't. I was in bed with Covid for about 2 months and so now I'm not sure where we are in the year. I do know that it's getting warmer and sunnier, though one wouldn't be sure of that looking out the window today, and grilling season is upon us!

  We were recently vaccinated so now I'm finally going to be able to share what I've been doing with my Homdoor Tandoori Oven with some vaccinated friends. We haven't had anyone in the house since February of last year and so when a vaccinated neighbor joined us for chai the other afternoon, we sat on the deck and stared at each other without masks for the first time in what seems like ages. I think I'm going to have to be re-socialized again since like the dog, I want to jump all over people I've missed for so long. I'm not humping any legs but you get the idea. 

  Anyway, to get in practice for what I'm hoping will be an outdoor cook-out sort of Summer I fired up the Homdoor the other day and decided to solve a question people always ask...."Do I really have to marinate anything I cook in it overnight? That's too much planning for me! Well, for those people who like to Tandoor when they feel like it....meet Saffron Tikka, the short marinade tandoor dish that can be ready in just a few hours. Marinate it at breakfast, grill it at dinner...or even a late lunch. Don't worry about anything in this recipe. There's nothing that you don't have at home, or can't easily get . Just a few ingredients + time = mouth fun.

Saffron Tikka and Garnish

Here's What You Need:

1 1/2 lbs of chicken cut into chunks for skewering

1 papaya.....you will use 2 tbs of papaya mashed into a paste

1 cup of yogurt

1/4 tsp saffron

8 green cardamom pods powdered

3 Tbs vegetable oil

2 tsp  salt

a little melted butter or ghee to baste

- Garnish -

leftover marinade ...the part you did NOT soak the chicken in

2  Tbs ground almonds

2 Tbs ground walnuts

1 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro


Here's What To Do:

Assemble your ingredients.

Blend everything together well.

  Any saffron you get at the market usually looks something like this.
 

It should be dry toasted in a pan for just a few minutes before crumbling into the marinade. I get around this by using a powdered saffron I got turned onto by my Friend Judy  at Divina Cucina. This stuff is great and I am now using it almost any time saffron is called for. Zafferano Meneghino can be ordered online from Amazon. It;s extremely easy to use and tastes great.

When the marinade is blended, set aside a small amount to be used in the garnish. Never use the marinade after chicken's been soaking in it. You wouldn't drink your bathwater would you?

Set the chicken pieces into the marinade, cover and refrigerate for about 6 hours. Don't forget to save some marinade for the garnish.

- Making The Garnish - 

Make this just before you cook the Tikkas so it's warm and waiting to be served.

 

Here's What To Do:

Scoop the leftover marinade into a pan

Add in the ground almonds and walnuts...

...and the chopped cilantro.

Heat the mixture on a low flame and stir until it thickens.

Place it in a bowl and set it aside, now we're ready to cook.

Wash and oil your skewers.

Thread the chunks of chicken onto the skewers. I find a thick slice of potato makes an excellent spacer and stopper so nothing falls off the skewers into the flames.

Just like this.

Place the  skewers on a tray and set them aside while you light the tandoor.

When the tandoor has reached about 480 to 500 degrees  put the skewers into the fire.

Arrange them next to each other so they cook evenly.

Partially cover the tandoor to hold the heat, checking them occasionally and rotating the skewers as needed. Cook for 10 minutes.

Take the skewers out and stand them upright against the tandoor so the drippings don't fall into the oven.

Baste them with some of the melted ghee or butter, then put them back into the tandoor for another 5 minutes.

Take them out, they're done.

I served these Tikka upon rice with saffron and golden raisins, almonds and cinnamon.

The garnish was served alongside to be brushed on the chicken before eating.

The chicken was tender and flavorful and the garnish added more of the marinade flavor which made the short marinade time work great! Serve this with any western green vegetable dish on the side, or go all Indian and try this spinach dish...

This chicken dish can be grilled on a BBQ, or even in your oven at home, but a tandoor sure makes it fun! Coming up next more Indian dishes for cautious post vaccine, open air,safe and sane intimate dinner parties as we more into a hopefully more or less plague free Summer.

 Follow along on Twitter at @kathygori

Friday, April 30, 2021

Show Up For India. Here's How You Can Help

  I cannot talk about recipes here without putting out this urgent appeal on behalf of all our friends in India right now who are suffering through a cataclysmic pandemic. My friends at Diaspora let me know how we can all Show Up For India. If you click on Diaspora Relief you can find out how we can all chip in and help.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Indian Favorite Kheema Mattar With A Difference.....No Meat! No Kidding.

One of my favorite, easiest, and quickest, Indian recipes is Kheema. Kheema is simply spiced ground meat, any sort will do. Beef, Lamb, Chicken all make a fine kheema. Add in peas and you have Kheema Mattar a star dish of North Indian roadside dhabas, aka truckstops around these parts. Some of the best food anywhere in the world is found in roadside stands, carts, and small diners. I'm not counting the roadside cart I ate off of in a jungle in Mexico while on a horseback trek about a hundred years ago. It tasted great going down though, and laid me out for about a week afterwards but nobody's perfect. 

The same thing happened to me in a funky truck stop (which is giving it an upgrade) off of the I 50 in Nevada several years back and it wasn't anywhere as good as what I got in Mexico...the food that is. Which brings me to kheema. The best way to explain it to those who haven't ever eaten it, is it's similar to American Sloppy Joes only 1,000 times better! Kheema's a great week-night dish, cheap and easy to make and a great party dish. You could serve it on sliders, or like I do wrapped in naan bread or chapattis. 

But what if one doesn't eat meat? Then what happens to the kheema cravings. Well, nothing if you use one of the meat substitutes out there. My husband got off the meat wagon a couple of years ago. He still eats fish and yeah. we do have meat on holidays but other than that no. I decided to try  Beyond Meat and their ground meat substitute, and hoo boy! I was not disappointed!                          

So, if you're looking to make a vegetarian kheema, this works great! If you want to go the meat route, then this is the original meat version of  Indian kheema that I've made for years.

Kheema

Here's What You Need:

1 lb of ground Beyond Meat
 
2 chopped onions

4 shallots

A  2 inch piece of ginger peeled and chopped

1 serrano chilli. If you'd like it a bit hotter add one more.

2 Tbs of vegetable oil.

The onion mixture

2 Bay leaves

2 Tbs of tomato paste

1/4 tsp of turmeric

1/2 tsp of Kashmiri chilli powder

2 Tbs of ground coriander

2 Tbs ground cumin

2 Tbs plain yogurt

3 tsps of salt

1 tsp ground pepper

1 and 1/2 cups of fresh or frozen peas

1/4 tsp garam, masala 

fresh cilantro chopped

 

Here's What To Do:

Put the onion, shallot, ginger and chilies into a food processor and grind them up.

Heat 2 Tbs of vegetable oil in a skillet.

When the oil is hot add in the ground up onion mixture

Add in the bay leaves...

...and stir everything around for about 2 minutes or so until it's a nice golden color.

Toss in your crumbled ground meat substitute and stir fry everything for about 15 minutes or so. Don't let it stick. If you're not using meat this takes a bit less time.

When it's browned add in 2 Tbs of tomato paste.

Mix it in well, then lower the heat to a simmer and add in:

1/4 tsp of turmeric

1/2 tsp of Kashmiri chilli powder

2 Tbs of ground coriander

2 Tbs ground cumin


 Stir around for about 1 minute then add in the 2 Tbs plain yogurt...

...3 tsps of salt...

...and 1 tsp ground pepper.

Cook for another 5 minutes.

If you are making this with meat... Now here is where I add in 3/4 of a cup of water bit by bit until all the water is absorbed. However, I didn't need to add any water with the vegetarian version it's your call on this.

If you're adding fresh peas now's the time to put them in. If you're using frozen peas hold off a bit.

Put the lid on the pan and let simmer for about 15 minutes or so.

Now add in the frozen peas.

Finish cooking . This takes another 5 minutes.

Sprinkle in 1/4 tsp of garam masala and top with  some chopped fresh cilantro

And bingo! Non meat Kheema Mattar.

I served these wrapped in chapattis with a mint yogurt raita.

Fast, easy, and cheap. 

You can serve these with chapattis, naan bread, or even on hamburger buns, though I've never done it that way . It would resemble the classic Vada Pav. Indian potato vada patties served on sliders. Definitely making those this summer!

 Anyway, I loved the ground Beyond Meat, which also makes an excellent Bolognese. I've been using these products for quite a while, but this is the first time I incorporated them into an Indian recipe. It won't be the last.  Coming up next on the blog...more fun with my Homdoor Tandoor oven hopefully with some vaccinated friends.

Follow along on Twitter @kathygori


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